For the past two years, Louise McCann has poured her heart and soul into one thing – creating a clothing brand to help women affected by mental illness.
The Fintona native launched Moody Activewear in March of this year, with all profits from the line going to organisations that work in the field of women’s mental health.
The high quality, functional sportswear is designed to help women feel great and is inspired by Louise’s mum Catherine, who battled mental illness for much of her life.
“Growing up, we knew something was going on with Mum.
‘‘None of us could quite understand why she was so manic or angry at times and then the next day be completely ‘normal’,” explains Louise, who has four brothers, one sister and one “rather remarkable and inspiring father”.
“But if the truth be told, we had absolutely no idea how we were going to help her and I don’t think she knew how she would help herself either.”
Catherine died in January from Huntington’s Disease, two months before the brand was launched – but not before Louise got one precious picture of her “rocking” the Moody look (pictured above).
Huntington’s disease is a condition that stops parts of the brain working properly over time.
‘‘The symptoms usually start at 30 to 50 years of age, but can begin much earlier or later, with symptoms including: difficulty concentrating and memory lapses; depression; stumbling and clumsiness and more.
“What we saw Mum go through was terrifying for us and for her. I so badly wanted to help other women and their families – but in a way that has the ability to sustainable.’’
Louise’s longing to help finally found a vehicle in June 2016 during a camping trip near Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived for almost 10 years.
“I was on a quest for new leggings for the trip, because everyone knows that camping means being active – (for me that means walking to the shop for food or to the bar for drinks) – but I needed new leggings.
“I had bought good leggings before but on this day, for some reason, I just could not get my head around how expensive they were.
‘‘I thought, what if those profits were going to people who needed it?,” said Louise, who also hails her “amazingly, supportive husband.”
“It was all I could talk about during that trip.
‘‘I know the role activewear plays in the lives of many women today. We wear it everywhere because we love that hold-me-together-suck-me-in-but-still-feel-comfy kind of wonderfulness.
“I thought it would be great if we could bring all that together, promote healthy living and be affordable, all while helping women affected by mental illness.
“Two years – and a lot of hard work - after that big discussion around the campsite, Moody Activewear is here.”
Louise explains it is an online brand, launched with top quality leggings and plans for a full sports line to follow.
“Life can be tough but so are you and with the right mindset (and leggings) you can take on anything, both physically and mentally.
‘‘We create amazing activewear and donate 100 per cent of our profits to help women affected by mental illness.
“The inspiration behind Moody was and always will be, my mum. You will look amazing in them and I hope you feel amazing in them, because when you choose these leggings you are making a difference to all those people out there who struggle every day with someone else’s or their own mental illness, who simply don’t know who or how to talk about it - this is your story too.’’
Moody is a registered charity and operates as a social enterprise, currently selling to Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Australia, and the UK – and has just announced its first partnering organisation in Northern Ireland – GLOW.
“GLOW offers incredible support services to women in communities in Belfast,” said Louise, “but they want to bring their work further afield, and we really want to help them achieve that.”
Visit Moody Activewear online via: moody.com.au or find the business on Instagram at: instagram.com/moodyactivewear/ and Facebook: facebook.com/moodyactivewear.
For more information on Huntington’s Disease visit nhs.uk/conditions/huntingdons-disease.